Ayrton Senna was a man of his time. The Formula One legend embodied everything great about the early nineties — whether through his rapid, global rise to superstardom in a newly digital world, or his fervent following of contemporary fashion, from the baggiest of baggy shirts to bright white sneakers.
Thankfully, this era of turtlenecks, double denim and bucket hats is back in force for modern men. We’re being actively encouraged to throw our wardrobes back to before the Millennium — and there’s no better role model for this period than the racing driver. Here, we’ve outlined five easy fashion tips and tricks to learn from Ayrton Senna…
Slip on a pair of tortoiseshell sunglasses
Whether worn for fashion or function, Senna’s sunglasses were always the most elegant frames in Formula One. He could be wearing them trackside, he could be on holiday with his family or — as in the 1994 photograph above — he could be at the controls of his helicopter in his home city of São Paulo. But they’d, more often than not, always share a pattern; tortoiseshell.
The distinctive speckled pattern remains a staple of the sunglasses world. Oscar Deen’s ‘Carril’ frames are inspired by vintage designs, Monc’s ‘Løkka’ sunglasses are roundly lensed and soundly built. And, from TBD Eyewear, this ‘Donegal’ pair has perhaps the most vivid, vibrant take on the mottled motif.
Oscar Deen ‘Carril’ Sunglasses
TBD Eyewear ‘Donegal’ Sunglasses
Monc ‘Løkka’ Sunglasses
Find a blue striped (preferably button-down) shirt
When it comes to shirting style, times have changed. The 1990s were not the slim-fit, trimly-tailored days our wardrobes have become accustomed to — but Ayrton Senna’s baggy button-downs still manage to look good when stacked up against modern menswear. We’d advise against these looser cuts, but we would recommend adopting Senna’s penchant for patterns; and going striped.
To even further follow the icon’s signature style, find a blue striped shirt. From New & Lingwood, this option even buttons down its rolled collar — as was Senna’s preference. Emma Willis has a similar offering, cut from linen to tackle even the most searing São Paulo sun. Or, for a looser interpretation (and fit), try Ripa Ripa’s casual ‘camicia’.
New & Lingwood Tailored Striped Shirt
Ripa Ripa ‘Camicia Capri’ Shirt
Emma Willis Striped Linen Shirt
Learn the subtle art of suiting separates
Senna wasn’t a suit man. On the rare occasion that the racing driver was spotted in a matching, tailored two-piece, it tended to be a tuxedo (and the less said about the sportsman’s wing-tip collars, the better). Instead, when it comes to formalwear, try to imitate Senna’s talent for selecting separates. Whether it’s a tonal pair of trousers, or a tightly patterned blazer, the key is to pick complementary, versatile pieces.
Pieces like this Ralph Lauren jacket; a preppy style with natural shoulders and half-canvassed construction. Or these traditionally cut, cream-coloured linen trousers from New & Lingwood. And, for the final Senna flourish, find a tie printed with an abstract block image — such as Paul Smith’s ‘Shadow Floral’ graphic on silk.
Ralph Lauren Silk-Blend Plaid Jacket
New & Lingwood Single Pleat Trousers
Paul Smith ‘Shadow Floral’ Tie
Pull on a pair of jeans and some chunky white trainers
Perhaps the most ‘nineties’ look on our list, Senna’s fondness for blue jeans and white trainers informed his entire off-duty wardrobe. Most commonly paired with one of his striped or blue shirts, the racing driver would also pull on white socks to complete the look. Thankfully, worn with conviction, it’s a simple enough style to work whatever the decade.
But you need the right sneakers. Our pick of the kicks begins with Unseen Footwear’s chunky ‘Marais’ trainers and ends with the vintage-tinged ‘Series 1’ design from Uniform Standard. And, when it comes to your denims, no brand does the blues better than Benedict Raven — and this cotton-stretch ‘Clifton’ pair.
Unseen Footwear ‘Marais’ Sneakers
Benedict Raven ‘Clifton’ Jeans
Uniform Standard ‘Series 1’ Sneakers
Strip things back and stick to black
When it came to colours, Senna may have been most associated with his helmet’s hues of yellow and green — but the Brazilian also dabbled with all-black duds away from the racetrack. Whether it was the height of summer or a black tie bash (again, step away from the wingtips), the sportsman knew how to style a monochrome outfit.
The key? Simplicity. Instead of a shirt, find a stripped-back black T-shirt such as this supima cotton style from Benedict Raven. Instead of trousers, opt for shorts — Gusari do a handsome pair. And, when the cold weather does roll in, find some natty knitwear in this deep, dark shade; Shackleton has you covered here.
Benedict Raven ‘Bath’ T-Shirt
Gusari ‘The Deia’ Shorts
Shackleton ‘Docker’ Sweater